The author fought in the British infantry during WWII. After the war he developed a strong reputation as a historian with an outstanding knowledge of German military conduct, assisted by the close contacts he developed with German ex-servicemen. This book is an important contribution to the available knowledge of the viscous war fought on the Eastern Front. There is a very good photo section that includes rare images of life and war on the Eastern Front. Highly recommended.
NAME: War on the Eastern Front, The German Soldier in Russia, 1941-1945
AUTHOR: James Lucas
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, Battle of France, Blitz Krieg, German invasion, Red Army, Russian Winter, Operation Barbarossa, Stalingrad, Panzers, T-34
DESCRIPTION: The author fought in the British infantry during WWII. After the war he developed a strong reputation as a historian with an outstanding knowledge of German military conduct, assisted by the close contacts he developed with German ex-servicemen. This book is an important contribution to the available knowledge of the viscous war fought on the Eastern Front. There is a very good photo section that includes rare images of life and war on the Eastern Front. Highly recommended.
When German forces rolled into Russia at dawn on 22 June 1941, it was to prove one of Hitler’s biggest miscalculations, starting a ferocious and bitter war between the national socialist forces of Germany with the national socialist forces of Russia. After the initial rapid advances, the Germans were halted by a winter that their commanders had done nothing to prepare for. As the Russians recovered from the initial shock, their factories beyond German bomber range began to turn out large numbers of capable, if crudely built, weapons. Some of these weapons were huge advances over the equipment with which the Red Army started the defence of the Motherland. What has been overlooked by most historians is the considerable support given to Russia by Allied seaman in fighting the Germans and the atrocious weather to carry large quantities of munitions, and other vital supplies on the Arctic convoys to Soviet ports.
The author has examined the impression the Eastern Front made on German soldiers and the relentless war of attrition to ultimately defeat Hitler. It is a gripping story that flows with the developing conflict and holds the reader’s attention. An excellent piece of research carried forward by an engaging style of writing.
The reader may find some surprises and is unlikely to have read such a comprehensive work on the conduct of WWII. The common perception for those starting into the subject of the German battles with the Soviets is of a streamlined armoured force, brushing all before it. The impression of advanced technology.
The reality was very different. The Germans depended heavily on horse drawn transport and not just for supply wagons, but to haul artillery. Much of the armour was still lightly armed and thin armoured reconnaissance tanks and armoured cars of the Pzkw Mks I & II. The Mk 111 and the newest Mk IV tanks were in very short supply and the most capable tank in the early stages was still the Czech Skoda T-38. The motorcycle was still a common vehicle in the advance, with or without a sidecar and machine gun. Of great significance was the unsuitability of much of the German equipment. Some of the best German equipment was simply too well-made with close tolerances. It did not perform well in the snow and ice of winter and was equally vulnerable to the mud that was major feature of much of the time between winters. The cruder Soviet equipment performed much better with its looser tolerances.
Many soldiers advanced on foot because there was still a serious shortage of mechanized transport. The bicycle was often the only means of wheeled transport and trench warfare was a major feature of many battles on the Eastern Front. Germany never really managed to address the many equipment issues. When the Panther and Tiger tanks were rushed into service to counter the Soviet T-34, they still suffered from their close tolerance manufacture and from poor battery life on vehicles that required battery-power. The author has provided an honest view of German strengths and weaknesses and conveyed the nightmare nature of the Eastern Front for the German soldier.